Shopping centre visits fell 1.5 per cent in the 12 months to February 2008, with like-for-like sales consistently dropping year on year for the past seven months, according to a report by Experian.

However, footfall rose 2.5 per cent between January and February.

The declining figures reveal a shift in consumer patterns, with increasingly savvy shoppers taking advantage of the growing number of multichannel retail offers available to them, according to Experian.

“The seven-month decline in shopper numbers has spanned all the main retail periods – including the autumn and spring collections and Christmas in between,” said Experian director of retail consultancy Martin Davies.

“February’s figures bring little cheer to retailers and affirm how shopping trends are in the process of a fundamental shift, driven by more sophisticated and price-conscious consumers and the availability of different shopping channels and venues.”